- - Sunday, February 27, 2011


Dictator’s son orders luxury superyacht

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa | The son of Equatorial Guinea’s dictator of 30 years commissioned plans to build a superyacht costing $380 million, nearly three times what the country spends on health and education each year, a corruption watchdog said Monday.

The statement from Global Witness said that German company Kusch Yachts has been asked to build the yacht, housing a cinema, restaurant, bar and swimming pool, though construction has not yet started.

Global Witness has been urging Washington to institute sanctions against Teodorin Obiang, whose extravagant lifestyle currently includes a $35 million mansion in Malibu, Calif., a $33 million jet and a fleet of luxury cars, while earning a salary of $6,799 a month as agriculture minister.

The government press office in Equatorial Guinea confirmed that the president’s son had ordered the yacht design, but said he “then dismissed the idea of buying it.”

It said that if the order had gone ahead, he would have bought it with income from private business activities and not “with funds derived from sources of illegal financing or corruption.”

President Teodoro Obiang, who reportedly is grooming his son to succeed him as president, took power in a bloody 1979 coup.


Zelaya supporters forgo elections

TEGUCIGALPA | Followers of ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya have decided not to form a political party and take part in 2013 elections.

Mr. Zelaya’s wife says the conditions are not right for the People’s National Resistance Front to participate in an electoral process.

Xiomara Castro says before that can happen, “the coup-mongers must leave power and be punished.”

Some 1,500 delegates at the group’s first general gathering decided instead Sunday to push for a constituent assembly to rewrite the nation’s constitution.


Blast injures four in capital

YANGON | Government security officials said a bomb exploded Sunday in a suburb of the capital Yangon, wounding four people.

The officials said a man suspected of carrying the bomb was among those wounded Sunday evening near the Aung Zeya bridge in northern Yangon. A 3-year-old girl also was hurt.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media.

Though terrorism is rare in this junta-ruled nation, there have been several bombings since last year, including three in Yangon that killed nine people and wounded 170.

Officials declined to comment on suspects, but the junta has blamed previous attacks on armed exile groups or ethnic rebels.


Assailants attack presidential home

KINSHASA | Assailants armed with machetes attacked Congo’s presidential palace, and at least nine people were killed. The president, who was home at the time, was not harmed in the attack, a government spokesman said Sunday.

Communications Minister Lambert Mende did not have an official death toll, saying only that some of the assailants had been killed or wounded, while others were arrested. However, a witness near the presidential residence reported seeing the bodies of seven attackers and two guards.

President Joseph Kabila was elected in 2006 in Congo’s first democratic election and is expected to run again in November. He succeeded his father, who seized power in 1997 but was later assassinated.

The enormous Central African nation suffered back-to-back civil wars starting in the late 1990s. While the country’s east remains highly volatile with a myriad of rebel groups and militias, such violence in the capital of Kinshasa is more rare.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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